And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. - Exodus 31:18
The phrase, “It is written” or another equivalent appears 90 times in the New Testament alone. This phrase settled matters for Jesus and the apostles. They firmly believed that if Scripture said it, there was no question: God said it and it was so. For Jesus and the apostles, regard for the Bible as God’s own word, His voice, was to listen to it and to act upon it. Jesus willingly submitted himself to Scripture, and we see that the phrase “It is written” was his highest appeal. For Jesus Christ, the words of the prophets are simply the word of God (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; 5:17–20; 19:4–6; 26:31, 52–54; Luke 4:16–21; 16:17; 18:31–33; 22:37; 24:25–27, 45–47; John 10:35–38).
...the scripture cannot be broken... - John 10:35
Jesus’ view of Scripture must also be our view. Kevin DeYoung writes, “We trust the Bible because it is God’s Bible. And God being God, we have every reason to take him at his word.” Scripture itself speaks of the “Word of God,” meaning the things God has said. But Scripture also uses the phrase “the Word” as a name. Specifically, as a name for Jesus Christ. Knowing the Word, the person of Jesus, also means I allow the Word, the Scriptures, to lead me in that ongoing relationship with Him. As Christians, God is Lord over our lives; our knowing and living are inseparable. John writes, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). Scripture makes it plain that the very nature of the Christian life is having God’s word and doing it.
God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.– Chicago Statement on Inerrancy
The word Bible comes from the Greek word biblios which means “book.” The Bible is the Book. John Frame writes, “God’s speech to man is real speech. It is very much like one person speaking to another. God speaks so that we can understand him and respond appropriately.” The function of the Bible is the sacred deposit of God’s revelation. Everything we know about God we know because he has told us in his Word. The promise of salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ is plainly given. The Scriptures reveal all we are to do in order to live in a way that honors God. Both knowing and living happen in submission to God’s Word.
Special revelation has three stages. First, there is redemption in history. This centers in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He died in the place of sinners and rose as proof of their divine justification. Second, there is a revelation in writing. This is the Bible. God has provided interpretive records of what he has done for our redemption. Finally, there is the application of these truths to the mind and heart of the individual by the Holy Spirit. As a result the individual is born again, receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, and is enabled to follow him faithfully until life’s end.– Jame Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith
Christ’s church is responsible to pass on sound doctrine from generation to generation. We cannot pass on what we do not know and understand. Walter Kaiser writes (while quoting John Albert Bengal), “Scripture is the foundation of the Church: The Church is the guardian of Scripture, When the Church is in strong health, the light of Scripture shines bright; when the Church is sick, Scripture is corroded by neglect; and thus it happens that the outward form of Scripture and that of the Church, usually seem to exhibit simultaneously either health or else sickness; and as a rule the way in which Scripture is being treated is in exact correspondence with the condition of the church.”
We have known the method of our salvation by no other means than those by whom the gospel came to us; which gospel they truly preached; but afterward, by the will of God, they delivered to us in the Scriptures, to be for the future the foundation and pillar of our faith,– Irenaeus, Early Church Father (130-202)
With this intro post, I invite you to read It Is Written over the course of eight blog posts. Studied under the theological category of systematic theology, biblical scholars have identified four attributes that Scripture possesses: clarity, sufficiency, authority, and necessity. In addition to these characteristics, we will look to the important doctrines: Inspiration of Scripture and Scripture’s Transformative Power. We will also consider the implications and application of each. Knowing and understanding basic Christian beliefs is important for every Christian woman, and I’ve given my best effort to cover doctrine faithfully.
It is my intention to be cautious and careful in my teaching/writing but just know that when I err, you can expect it will be on the side of conservatism. My view is from a classical position (historically Christian), and I have no desire to present a liberal or feminist theological view appealing to a broader audience. You can trust that I will never misuse the Bible or manipulate age old theological truths to meet a modern day political or social justice agenda. I believe that I am first accountable to God to represent His Word rightly. For added clarity, I recommend the reader take note of each and every scripture referenced – Read for yourself as confirmation of these doctrinal truths. By reading through the posts and the Word in this way, we will be sure to cover the seven key elements of the doctrine of Scripture:
I’ve been teaching theology to women of my church since January 2019 and admittedly, in my own studies, I have found few conservative female voices in the realm of theological thinkers. The seminary-level training I’ve completed stretched and challenged my commitment to understanding the Scriptures, and shaped my ability to articulate truth. It has provided the confidence needed to teach and share, yet it has also provided the humility of knowing that I still have much more to learn, so much more! Personally, I’m convinced that no other subject could be more fundamental and practical for the Christian woman than her view of the Bible. I have a deep love for the Word and a sincere desire to see other women grow in love for the Bible and be changed by it.
The God who designed you to be a thinker is the same God who inspired the writers of the Old and New Testaments to pen his truths. God hardwired us to view life through an interpretative grid, and he also gave us his Word to shape that grid. The Bible is a book, filled with doctrine, that defines what is good, right and true.– Paul Tripp
I long for women to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, and I hope to address common misunderstandings so we might taste the sweetness of God’s Word (Psalm 119:103). Right understanding of the Doctrine of the Word of God is essential to understanding all other areas of theology, and it serves as the very foundation of Christianity. My aim in this series is to represent doctrine both rightly and understandably for the average reader so she might have a deeper confidence in the reliability of the Bible, increase her appetite to understand its message, and motivate her to live its truth. Make no mistake, God wants women to know him in a greater way, and I challenge you to fix your gaze upon the beauty of the doctrinal truths of God’s written Word.
I want to stress that I do not consider myself a biblical scholar in Christian theology, but we are all theologians as we engage Scripture, Christ, and the world we live in. And to add, in this writing I am fully dependent on theologians whose lives and wisdom have been shaped by lifelong commitments to the study of doctrinal truth (see sources). In this series, when I speak of what Christians believe, it is with historical Christianity in view. The early church has defined many things with clarity in creeds and confessions; even today, the evangelical church can gain much from reading, understanding, and applying them. These creeds and confessions, formal statements of Christian belief, do not replace the Word of God. Rather, they point us to Scripture as we affirm doctrinal truth. Brief statements of key doctrines have been with us since the beginning of biblical history. For instance, this foundational creed, the Apostle’s Creed (below), is short and simple, yet it describes the most basic beliefs of early Christians and provided a solid framework for the theological teachings of the early church. The Apostles’ Creed represents a set of uncompromisable core beliefs for Christians and functions as a filter for orthodoxy. As a public profession, the Apostle’s Creed serves as an indication for what is and is not Christian.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.– The Apostle’s Creed
Furthermore, the creeds and confessions are the church’s understanding of God’s Word on the most important issues of Christian doctrine and living. For nearly two thousand years, the church has constructed sound theology based on Scripture. We do not have the luxury of just making up what Christianity is as we go along.
We come to theology with presuppositions (beliefs that one presumes to be true). David Dockery writes, “Baptist have long been considered a ‘people of the Book.’ Various Baptist confessions demonstrate the way the Bible is viewed as the Word of God and is, therefore, authoritative for the faith and practice of every believer and church. Baptist luminaries such as John Bunyan, William Carey, John L. Dagg, J. P. Boyce, and Charles Spurgeon were well known for their views of the complete trustworthiness and authority of the Bible as the divine Word of God…In words drawn from the New Hampshire Confession 1833, the Baptist Faith and Message affirms that the Bible ‘is a perfect treasure of divine instruction.”
As a member of an SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) church, I affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 which states the following regarding the Scriptures: The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
For further study, I recommend reading from my sources for this series: Words of Life – Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God by Timothy Ward, Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung, A Quest for Godliness by J. I. Packer, Awe by Paul David Tripp, Do You Believe? by Paul Tripp, B. B. Warfield’s “It Says:” “Scripture Says:” “God Says”, Simply Trinity by Matthew Barrett, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, John Frame’s Systematic Theology, Christian Theology by Millard Erickson, and Michael Horton’s Pilgrim Theology, Historical Theology by Gregg Allison, Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof, Foundations of the Christian Faith by James Boice, Sam Waldron’s A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The Westminster Confession of Faith, The Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Gerald Bray’s Special Revelation in Lexham Survey of Theology, Romans: Justification by Faith by James Boice, The Divine Inspiration of the Bible by A.W. Pink, The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns, Toward an Exegetical Theology by Walter Kaiser, A Theology for the Church by Daniel Akin, Understanding Christian Theology by Charles Swindoll